Skip to content

40-year reunion for one-time nuclear apprentices

Andy Male (second from right), David Smeatham (second from left)

Two ONR inspectors who started their careers together as apprentices recently met up with five other members of their one-time apprenticeship cohort - 40 years later.

Andy Male, Principal Inspector Nuclear Safety - Electrical Engineering and David Smeatham, Head of Innovation, began as electrical apprentices at Urenco Capenhurst (then British Nuclear Fuels Ltd Capenhurst) in 1983.

As the 40th anniversary of this date approached, they rounded up seven of the ten electricians and instrument mechanics from their original cohort.

David and Andrew, from ONR, were joined by former Urenco colleagues - Simon Bennett, Roger Garnett, Sean Nicholson, Stephen Owens and Anthony Foran – and they decided to renew their acquaintances at the enrichment site in Capenhurst, near Chester, Cheshire.

Andy said: “It was hard to believe 40 years had gone by since we last saw each other, but very soon it felt like that time hadn’t passed once we started touring the site and reminiscing about old colleagues and places where we had worked.

“It was an excellent day, and took me back to the good times we had as apprentices - I wonder if we could do this again in another 40 years…”

Three of the seven men, two of them currently employed by ONR, still work in the civil nuclear industry today.

Andy added: "My apprenticeship at Capenhurst provided an excellent foundation and gave me with the engineering knowledge, skills, experience and drive to progress throughout my career.

"This essential grounding allowed me to develop professionally, for example, when I managed to attain a Fellowship from The Institute of Engineering and Technology.

"I am keen to help others similarly develop their careers and gain the professional recognition they deserve."

David said: "My apprenticeship at Capenhurst was a great foundation for many technical matters that I've encountered throughout my career in the nuclear industry.

"I learnt, early on in my career, the real value of building strong relationships within the workplace.

"I'll be forever grateful for the time I spent at Capenhurst, and the friendships cultivated with colleagues as we developed personally and professionally."